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To read or not to read? The politics of overlooking gender in the geographical canon

Maddrell, Avril


Avril Maddrell


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Wherever there is an established 'canon' within an established scholarly arena, this is near universally dominated by texts written by men. Whilst historical contextual reasons may account for the gendering of such knowledge production in relation to publications dating from the nineteenth and preceding centuries, one has to ask why this has persisted in an era of equal access to education and academia in the twentieth century. Why is women's work, highly influential in its day, overlooked in subsequent histories of the discipline and therefore marginalised in discussions of key works? These questions are particularly pertinent to any notion of a geographical canon, given the subject's relatively late arrival as a degree award in the UK from 1917 onwards. This paper draws on an analysis of the significance of lineage, reviewing, reputation and genre in the contextualised production and reception of selected work to explore the merits and demerits of a geographical canon - and the implications for gendered geographical knowledge. It goes on to suggest i) a more inclusive and dialogic relational approach to understanding past and present geographical work based on Kilcup's notion of the 'soft canon'; ii) a broadening of the cast and range of outputs considered 'influential'; and iii) encourages greater critical reflection on contemporary practices of canonization within sub-disciplines.


Maddrell, A. (2015). To read or not to read? The politics of overlooking gender in the geographical canon. Journal of Historical Geography, 49, 31-38.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 15, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Journal of Historical Geography
Print ISSN 0305-7488
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Pages 31-38
Keywords gender, reception, engagement, legacy, dialogue, canon
Public URL
Publisher URL


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